Archive for July, 2010

Spinning Yarn: Tale of the Chocolate Creation #17

Friday, July 30th, 2010

 The next project I attempted was a shapeless sweater with a cable to highlight the front. I decided to do the main body in chocolate brown and do the cable in cream. It didn’t say that on the pattern, but if I did it their way, then I wouldn’t be able to see the cable at all. Why put I the effort if no one can see? Now, how do I join 2 colours….

 By the time it was done, I had done back and sleeves in chocolate and the cable looked great, even around the end of the purposely baggy sleeves. The whole sweater was outstanding – in the middle of the room! It stood up by itself!  I had discovered the reason why knitters so a  “Tension Square” ….

 I imagine that if you threw the sweater above your head and stretched your arms up, then the sweater would slot on to the body – no wriggling — to put it on, just like in the cartoons….I didn’t wear it much. Took a picture for my knitting project catalogue, though and then, years later – took it apart and used the wool differently.

Wool has a 24 hour memory.  Whatever shape it is in for 24 hours, becomes its new shape! that is why the yarn is crinkly when you take apart a garment. To erase the memory, wash the yarn. Neat, eh?

Spinning Yarn: The Seed Germinates #16

Monday, July 19th, 2010

My first attempt at knitting was less than successful. Mom was right-handed and I was left handed, so to learn, I had to adapt to her way of holding yarn and making stitches, or forget it till I could mirror-image it for myself. We had our arguments. We had our disagreements. We had our yelling matches. And I put it away….

 Until one day, about  year later,  I just picked it up, and I did it! I could just do it! My subconscious brain had figured it out, albeit right-handed. (It is just as well we left-handed people are so flexible and clever, eh?  That’s another story…)

 As every beginner does, I began with a scarf. Plain Wedgwood blue in a garter stitch. The stitches were uneven, there were gaps, and there seemed to be fewer stitches than when I started it, but I wore it proudly to school my whole High School life.  I loved that scarf. It has a history……

Spinning Yarn: Seed of Creativity #15

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

Mom used to knit for us when my brother and I were smaller, and I wondered how the wool she bought came in such loooong lengths. Every conceivable colour and texture was represented. And the patterns….well, they were endless! Some patterns had rope through them in pretty shapes and sizes – these were the “cables” – while others had lacey designs with heaps of holes and I wondered how anyone would keep warm wearing the holes – wouldn’t there be a breeze through the holes as you walked around?

 When Mom started working in colours, as the knitting grew it had pictures in it, I was totally amazed! She made me this really neat sweater with a smiling sun in the middle of it  – just the sort of thing that appealed to a teenage girl in the 70s – and I wore it till it no longer fit me.

 After that, I decided I wanted to try knitting for myself…..

Spinning Yarn: Passion or Obsession #14

Saturday, July 10th, 2010

I love the stars! Tiny pinpoints of glorious light shining through the utter cold and blackness of space.  When I was small, and it was summer, I used to sleep out in the backyard, in my sleeping bag, washed by their protective glow. I wanted to be an astronomer so I could study them. I was spinning ideas even then.

As I grew, I realized that Astronomers have to stay up all night, and I was not too keen on having my daily routine at the opposite end of the day clashed with all the other things I wanted to do.

 My Dad, first a soldier and later a school teacher, was a big influence on me – always encouraging me to do daring and unusual things. The School year ends in June in Canada and resumes in September, and as a teacher, he would have all summer off with us, so we would go places and visit historical sites, provincial parks and take long trips. Each year we did something different: Halifax Citadel, Annapolis Royal and Grand Pré, Expo 67 in Montreal, Quebec Citadelle, Niagara Falls and surrounds, Upper Canada Village in Ontario, and lots more.

 It was at Upper Canada Village that I first saw spinning yarn.  The lady had a Great Wheel, and, to a small girl of 7 years old, it really was a great wheel – huge, in fact. I wanted to try. Alas, the lady quite forcefully said no – I have to be taller. My first spinning yarn experience was less than I had hoped.

Spinning Yarn: Playing in the Snow #13

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

 Winter in Canada can be very cold. I remember being snowed in to the second storey and having to slide down to the front yard by coming out of the attic window!  And every morning we would listen to the radio, waiting for the announcement that there would be no school today because the snowplows could not get through.

 The year I was in Grade 2, I walked to school with snowshoes on my feet. (The Blue coat did not yet fit) *see post  #10

 We were in London (Ontario) in those days living on Susan Avenue. There was a Dairy behind us where this cranky old woman lived and she used to spend her days at the front door yelling across the backyard to the Fire Station on the other side. I don’t know what the Firemen thought….but we were not impressed.

 Anyway, the snow loved these buildings, producing huge sculpted drifts and encouraging my imagination with snow caves and igloos and snowmen. Which was all fine until it was time to come inside: Mom waited for us at the back door – broom in hand.

 What for, you ask? Why, to brush us down so that the snow would not melt all over her clean floor! The strength of the brushing varied with the amount of time Mom would have spent calling us to come in. “Stand still, for goodness sake, and let me remove this snow”, we would hear, punctuated with strokes of broom. Younger brother Andrew almost went down the basement stairs, once!  Ah, he would have rolled nicely…..

Spinning Yarn: Boots #12

Monday, July 5th, 2010

 Visiting in Dawson, in Canada’s Yukon, I went shopping, as tourists do and I came across this clothing cum souvenir store behind the main street. The window display intrigued me, so I went in and there- on the shelf in front of me was this fabulous looking pair of snow boots.

 As a child growing up in winter, we did have boots to wear. They were rubber and had a clip on the side so you could fold them closed on your leg. Always much too big was the best idea because we would put our socks and shoes on, then another pair of socks over the shoes, then all of that into the boots. This meant that your feet were warm, of course, but also that you could get your feet, shoes attached, out of the boots more easily. Bonus was you already had your shoes on so did not have to change.

 The Dawson boots were nothing like that. They were big and fluffy and warm without the extra socks. Not made of rubber, either. Plus they were guaranteed to -40º.

 Wow! What great boots! Would Australian Customs allow me through with them? Do I want to carry them around for the whole rest of the trip? I could try them on, at least….

 No, Marion, you don’t need these, you live in a desert country – what will you do with -40º boots?

 …….visit Antarctica, maybe?  (Anyone remember the name of that shop?) Sigh.

Spinning Yarn: The Blue Coat #11

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

I was four years old or so when we lived in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Dad was in the army and he was posted from place to place over his career, and this was one of them.

 Winnipeg is smack in the middle of the Prairie, at the convergence of the cold North wind from the Arctic and the wind that travels east across the flat from the Rockies, resulting in double cold and treacherous weather. Sound like fun, eh? You have to rug up, on the Prairies…

 From the famous Hudson’s Bay Company, Mom bought a Kuletuk – an Eskimo (as it was then) Parka. Electric Blue, with Arctic Fox around the hood. She said wearing it felt like she was carrying the world with her, but it served its purpose and kept her warm.

 I loved that coat.

 The day Mom decided she did not want it anymore, I took it, keeping it in my cedar chest of treasures for years and years, waiting to grow into it. It came with us on every one of Dad’s postings. Did it fit yet? It came with us when Dad left the Army and became a teacher. Does it fit now? It came with us to Australia. What about now?

 Marion, you do not still have that coat, do you?  Yes, Mom, I do! 

 Then, one day, it FIT!  Wearing it,  I looked like a tiny person in a huge blue bubble! It smelled of snow, and cold, and warm memories of my Mom.  I took the Kuletuk up to Mt Buller where I found it to be too warm  and too bulky to wear while skiing. Last year, I wore it to the Christmas in July party, complete with snowshoes. And this year, Orion Expedition Cruises have graciously granted me a wish –This year, I wear it in Antarctica.

From the frozen North to the frozen South. If only I could show my Mom!